After watching a gajillion episodes, I decided it was time to take my new-found inspiration to the kitchen and make something I've never tried to make before, and my sights landed on the ever-decadent chocolate brownie.
The reason that I've never made them before is because my mom always just got the box mixes and discouraged me from trying to make them from scratch. She said the "boxes were better." Well, just because she made this claim didn't mean that I believed her. (Although I'm learning more everyday about how many things my mom is right about: bring a sweater everywhere, take vitamins, get enough sleep... the list is never-ending. But in the case of brownies, I still thought she was terribly wrong.)
So today, I put two and two together: if my mom says that making good brownies from scratch is difficult, and America's Test Kitchen perfects difficult-to-perfect recipes - gasp! - why don't I make America's Test Kitchen Brownies?!
Making the brownies was not too difficult. I made sure I had everything ready to go before I started, because some of the steps were somewhat time-sensitive, but I double-checked everything in the recipe so I'm fairly confident that I got everything correct.
Even with all of my careful recipe-reading and ingredient measuring, these brownies just didn't work for me. When I took them out of the oven, the insides were still really gooey and looked undone. I put them back in the oven for a fairly substantial amount of time, and this gooey appearance did not go away. I ended up putting them in the oven for so much longer that they turned out really, really chewy (and not in a good way) and tough around the edges - I could barely get the knife through them when they cooled completely. Perhaps if I took them out of the oven at the recommended time they wouldn't be so tough, but I'm pretty sure the insides wouldn't have been done if I had followed that course of action.
I'm not going to lie - I was pretty disappointed that the first recipe I tried from my new cooking idols turned out to be a flop. But I'll try more of their recipes before I solidify my opinion about them. In the meantime, I'm still on the search for an excellent brownie recipe so that I can prove to my mom that homemade is better!
In case you want to try it for yourself (maybe you'll have better luck than me), here's the recipe:
From America's Test Kitchen
|1/3||cup Dutch-processed cocoa|
|1 1/2||teaspoons instant espresso (optional)|
|1/2||cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water|
|2||ounces unsweetened chocolate , finely chopped|
|4||tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted|
|1/2||cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil|
|2||large egg yolks|
|2||teaspoons vanilla extract|
|2 1/2||cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar|
|1 3/4||cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour|
|3/4||teaspoon table salt|
|6||ounces bittersweet chocolate , cut into 1/2-inch pieces|
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Referring to directions in Making a Foil Sling (related), make sling using the following steps: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.4. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.